GREEK PRIME MINISTER Constantinos Simitis recently inaugurated the Aghios Dimitris dam and water supply project on the Evinos river in the Aitoloakarnia province. The 125m high earthfill dam has been considered a major engineering achievement in Greece and was built as the second phase of an overall scheme to secure water supplies for Athens until 2030.

The dam was constructed under the control of the Special Service of Public Works, Road Tunnels and Underground Works (EYDE/OSYE). The diversion tunnel was closed in June 2001 to facilitate impounding and it is expected that the reservoir will fill over the next few seasons, in time to meet additional demands placed on the city by the Athens Olympics in 2004. Athens Water Company, EYDAP, who will operate and maintain the new asset, is already involved in preparations for the handover.

Preliminary designs for the scheme were carried out in the early 1990s with a detailed design and construction contract let to a Greek/Italian/Austrian joint venture for the dam, intake works and tunnel construction. Water stored in the reservoir is transferred through a 30km long tunnel to the Mornos reservoir, constructed earlier as phase I, and from there through the existing 186km long aqueduct to the city. During an extended drought in 1994-5, work was accelerated on the driving of the tunnel and construction of a small dam in the upper reaches of the valley. This permitted early diversion of water from the Evinos river towards Athens so helping, along with other schemes, to alleviate the shortages of water suffered in the city.

The cost of the entire project, which includes extensive local road and bridge works to aid transportation in this remote area of Greece, is estimated at US$392M: 85% of which has been funded by the Cohesion Fund of the European Union.

UK-based WS Atkins has been working as technical consultant to EYDE/OSYE since December 1995. Mike Woolgar, WS Atkins project director said: ‘We have thoroughly enjoyed working on this project. It has been a truly multi-national team, with engineers from Greece, Austria, Italy, Russia, Serbia and the UK all working together. We were assisted greatly in reaching our goal by the leadership from EYDE/OSYE.’